Baidu, China’s dominant search engine and artificial intelligence company, has mounted a rigorous defence of autonomous driving, pledging it will eventually be safer than conventional driving.

Wei Dong, vice-president and chief operations officer of Baidu’s intelligent driving division, said that self-driving cars will eventually be safer than vehicles with people behind the wheel.

“Autonomous driving will offer a safer and more reliable driving experience than human drivers,” he told a forum on future mobility in Shanghai on Saturday. “Still the tech cannot ensure that no accidents will occur.”

The remarks, made during the China International Import Expo (CIIE), were apparently aimed at soothing consumers’ concerns about the safety of autonomous driving technology following a fatal crash in August which involved the use of a driver assistant system.

Baidu, which launched the world’s largest open-source autonomous driving platform, Apollo, four years ago, is a pioneer in developing driverless cars. China is undergoing a major shift towards electrification on the roads.

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